Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 63: Sad Man Walking...

The snow has melted. The rain has stopped for a few hours. The sun is peeking through some white, puffy, marshmallowey clouds. Angel and I head out to do the Short Loop.

The woods are alive with activity. I stop and watch a squirrel doing its acrobatics; jumping from tree to tree, barely hanging on before securing its grasp and moving forward. A group of crows caw at me. A pair of woodpeckers flutter by. And Steller jays cry at me.

All this is delightful. And sad.

Sad because I leave this morning for work and the Monastic Dorm. Sad because I had a change in schedule, which now means I work six days in a row (gotta pay those bills). Sad because I will be away for six days. I'm just starting to have fun. I miss this ridge, dog, cat, mud house, girls and Joni when I am gone.

For one year and nine months I have been making this bi-monthly trip to be away for at least a week. Last year I spent (from doing my taxes) 152 nights away from this house. Had to work a bit more to pay for bills.

So, why not work closer to home? Because psychiatric RN's aren't in demand in Butte County. No jobs. I'm not alone in that predicament, I work with other RN's who commute farther than I do to work because the units that used to employ them closed. Mental Health Units have been closing for twenty years; every year there are fewer and fewer of them.

Not that there are few mentally ill, depressed or people in crises. The depressed folks aren't being hospitalized. Gone are the days when suburban angst (unless you have really good insurance or are rich) will lead to a week or two of hospitalization. Psychotic people aren't being hospitalized as much anymore either. They suffer on the street until they die or a crime is committed. Jails are the new psychiatric unit. And I won't work in a jail.

So I make the commute, happy to have a job. Happy for my hospital's commitment to providing such a service to those in need in California. For how much longer I will be able to make this drive? Who knows...

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